Winston is still in the Ministry of Love, but his health is steadily improving. He is eating well and continually growing stronger. He has been given a pillow and a mattress for his wooden bed, has had a bath, and has been permitted to wash himself in a small basin. He also has new underclothes and clean overalls. Winston is unsure of the exact timeframe, but thinks that weeks or months have gone by. He has been dreaming a great deal, largely of the Golden Country, his mother, Julia, and O'Brien. He is happy and peaceful in his dreams. Eventually, he begins to exercise, walking around the cell and experimenting with carrying and lifting weight. When he is able to complete a pushup, he feels a great sense of accomplishment. Soon, he begins to use the slate and pencil he has been given. Working through what he and O'Brien discussed, Winston analyzes his perspective of the world. He realizes that he cannot fight against the Party, and that O'Brien is correct in stating that sanity is statistical. He writes on his slate, "Freedom is Slavery, Two and Two Make Five." Then he hesitates, forgetting what comes next, reasons it out, and writes "God is Power." He accepts that the past is alterable, he accepts the Party's rule, and he accepts that he has been wrong. He thinks, "Only surrender, and everything else followed."
Winston sleeps, and in his dream calls out Julia's name. He wakes himself with this exclamation and immediately realizes that he has set himself back significantly by revealing this weakness. He had surrendered his mind, but not his heart. As he expects, Winston hears boots walking up to his door. O'Brien enters and tells Winston to follow him. O'Brien explains that intellectually, there is little wrong with Winston, but emotionally, he has made no progress. Demanding honesty, O'Brien asks Winston what he thinks of Big Brother. Winston replies, "I hate him." O'Brien notes that the time has come for Winston to love Big Brother. He sends Winston to Room 101.
O'Brien meets him in Room 101, and explains to Winston that Room 101 is "the worst thing in the world," which is different for each individual. For Winston, the worst thing in the world is rats. Winston sees the cage and begins to scream protests. O'Brien picks up the cage, which houses huge rats, and sets it down next to Winston. O'Brien explains that rats are carnivorous, and are known to eat infants and attack sick or dying people. The cage has a mask that will fit over Winston's head. A lever release will force the cage door up, allowing the rats access to Winston's face. They will attack him, gouging his eye, cheeks, and tongue. Winston is in a panic. He realizes that he must put someone else between himself and the horror of the cage. He feels "blind, helpless, mindless" in his fear. When the mask is inches from his face, he screams, "Do it to Julia!" He begs O'Brien to force Julia to suffer in his place. O'Brien is satisfied.
Winston has been released from the Ministry of Love. He sits in the Chestnut Tree Cafe drinking their special clove-flavored Victory Gin. Winston listens to the telescreen, eager for a special bulletin from the Ministry of Peace. There should be news about Central Africa. Suddenly, his mind wanders. He has trouble focusing on any single thought these days. He can smell the gin, and thinks of how it is forever mixed up with the smell of the rats he faced, although he never names the beasts. A waiter who recognizes Winston as a regular brings him a chessboard and a Times before filling his gin glass. He begins to examine the chess problem in the Times: "White to play and mate in two moves." He looks at Big Brother, thinking to himself, "White always mates."
The telescreen announces that a bulletin will be given at fifteen-thirty. He is excited to think of the news. Eurasia is invading Central Africa, and if they are successful may eventually succeed in splitting Oceania in two, which could mean the destruction of the Party. Unconsciously, he traces "2+2=5" in the dust on the table, and thinks of Julia. They saw each other once after being released, purely by chance. He followed her on her walk, always a few feet behind. Eventually she stopped and he put his arm around her waist, but felt revulsion at the thought of making love to her. She did not respond; her body felt rigid and lifeless. They sat down on a bench with some distance between them. After some time, she told him, "I betrayed you." He told her the same. They agreed, through a distant conversation, that there are some things they can do to you that make you think and care only about yourself. After that, it is impossible to ever feel the same way towards one who you loved. She made an excuse to leave, and they both feebly suggested they should meet again, knowing they never would. Winston followed her for a short time, but eventually lost her in a crowd and gave up the effort.
Sitting in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, Winston feels nostalgic, and tears up when the song "Under the spreading Chestnut Tree, I sold you and you sold me" begins to play over the telescreen. The waiter brings him more gin. Winston reflects on how his life is now filled with gin. It is "his life, his death, and his resurrection." Winston is a fixture at the Chestnut Tree Cafe, despite his new position as a sinecure, meaning he is on a sub-committee under many other sub-committees, and only goes to work a couple of days out of the week. He does little, but is paid well. Winston's thoughts turn back to the battle in Africa. He wonders if there even is a battle. Suddenly, a strong memory comes to him. Winston was nine or ten, sitting on the floor and shaking a dice box, laughing with excitement. His mother was sitting across from him, and also laughing. It was a brief moment, in their hard lives, of happiness and camaraderie. His mother had gone out in the rain to buy him the board game as a reward for behaving well. For a whole afternoon, Winston, his mother, and his sister had a wonderful, joyous time.
Winston pushes the memory out of his mind, certain that it is one of those false memories that keeps troubling him. Suddenly, a loud trumpet call sounds, signaling that the bulletin is about to be announced. Oceania has intelligently outflanked Eurasia, capturing the whole of Africa and perhaps bringing the war close to an end. It is the greatest victory in history. Winston listens to the news with excitement, thinking it has all turned out just as he had thought it would. His feet stir beneath him, and he imagines himself running with the cheering crowds out in the street. He looks at the poster of Big Brother and is in awe of his greatness. He recognizes that only ten minutes ago he had wondered if Oceania might be defeated. But now, staring into the warm, strong eyes of Big Brother, he realizes that this could never be. With tears of great understanding trickling down his face, Winston realizes he has finally defeated himself. He loves Big Brother.
These chapters describe Winston's recovery from his near-death experience in the Ministry of Love. O'Brien continues to be his savior, allowing Winston to heal, benefit from basic comforts such as a mattress and a pillow, and gain back his strength. In this process, Winston begins to fully accept O'Brien's version of the world. Without the Party, there is nothing. Here, we see the effectiveness of the combination of O'Brien's physical and psychological torture. Winston, a lone man, has no hope for successfully rebuffing these invasions into his body and mind. He is overcome through force and power. Knowing he has been beaten, Winston still wonders when he will be finally be killed, when the Party will finally decide his life is over.
Winston reveals that his conversion is incomplete when he yells out Julia's name in his sleep. O'Brien methodically observes Winston's behavior, waiting to see exactly how much progress he has made. When Winston calls out in his sleep, O'Brien knows there is still some vestige of individual thought left in Winston's mind. He loves Julia, and to be a successful Party member, he can only have love for Big Brother. To remedy this dysfunction, O'Brien brings Winston to Room 101. The rat cage stretches Winston's sanity to its breaking point. To some, the rat cage might seem a simple tool, not threatening enough to demand Winston's final submission. However, we previously learned that Winston's greatest fear was rats. This fear is innate, and lies deep in his subconscious. Therefore, presenting him with the danger of sitting fully conscious in a chair and having his face eaten by rats is the worst possible threat Winston can face. In this scene, Orwell argues yet again that physical pain is the worst thing a person can face. Winston is unable to fight against the potential horror of rats eating his face, and submits almost immediately. In this pivotal scene, Winston loses all hope of maintaining his individual spirit or his love for Julia. They once promised each other that the Party could never take away their love for each other, but now they have been proven wrong.
Although his love for Julia is removed, as we see through the failure of their accidental meeting, Winston does not yet love Big Brother. Back in Oceanian society, Winston is a shell of a man. The totalitarian regime has broken him. The reader might once have seen Winston as hope for a brighter future for Oceania, and for the end of Party rule. Here, in the final chapters, we come to understand that there is no hope for rebellion against such a regime. The Party's power is total, and once that power is obtained, there is no way to reverse it. In the last scene, Winston finally comes to love Big Brother, and in so doing notes that he has finally beaten himself. The man as we first knew him has ceased to exist. Winston has submitted to complete psychological control by the Party.
In reflecting on this conclusion, it is important to note that Winston was one of few members of Oceanian society who even remembered a time before the Revolution. Julia, although disgruntled with Party life, never believed in the potential for successful rebellion. It is easy to assume that once the last people who remember life before the Revolution die off, and once Newspeak officially takes over for Oldspeak, thus removing the citizens' ability to even think against the Party, there will be no hope for Winston's ideals. The Party's control will be absolute, and it is difficult to see any scenario that would break it. Here, we have Orwell's final warning. He suggests that allowing totalitarian regimes to develop and take hold is the equivalent of placing society on a path towards violent governance and absolute removal of individual thoughts and freedoms; in other words, towards the ultimate dystopia.